Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Vulnerability - A New Leadership Competency

I've been working for a long time. Well, actually, for a really long time, and most of that has been in leadership. Some of the "virtues" of leadership I learned early on were to never show weakness or be indecisive, because...

weakness = career over
indecisive = zero respect

I'm guessing that mindset is not unique to the healthcare industry.

However, I would suggest there is a different competency out there that is a far cry from the commonplace failings of weakness and the inability to make a decision.

Vulnerability.
- "open to criticism"

New Leaders
Once upon a time I was a new leader eager to climb the corporate health system ladder. I wanted to try new approaches, use new technologies, and take risks. For some reason I've always been enamored with risk!

...which doesn't make me sound like an HR guy...but whatever...

What I often ran into though was a large group of old-school leaders: bright, successful people who had no interest in doing anything differently, ever.

I quickly grew frustrated with what turned out to be my perception of these folks...what they considered their "strengths" I considered to be an "out of touch" view. What they thought of as "steady and consistent" I soon labeled as "stale."

Fast forward to today...am I'm asking myself if the young leaders in the world of work look at you and me that way?

Are we out of touch and stale?

New Expectations
I'm convinced now more than ever that not only is effective leadership about staying current with industry trends, technology, and employee expectations as they shift and modulate over time. But also to show something else...

...our vulnerable side.



How many of us equate being vulnerable with weakness? 
How many of us see a direct link between loss of credibility and being vulnerable?
How many of us are obsessed with maintaining our perceived power as leaders?

Consider the impact of being real and showing our human side to the employees in our organizations. Do you think they will connect with us more? Might they see beyond our fancy job title and lofty position on the maze of boxes on the org chart?

Maybe, just maybe, they will believe in us and want to stay and be part of something special.

How About You

How do you show your human side at work? Perhaps embracing vulnerability, and leveraging it as a true leadership competency is the missing piece in your approach.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Generation 'Leadership-Do-Your-Job'

"Parents [and leaders] often talk about the younger generation as if they didn't have anything to do with it."
Haim Ginott

The People
I'm not a big fan of focusing exclusively on one generation or another when I think about job satisfaction, leadership behavior, or strategic workforce planning. However, there are some realities to the world we live in that can not be ignored.

For example, there are a heck of a lot of people turning sixty-five every day (as in, 10,000!) We affectionately call these folks baby-boomers and seem to hold them in high regard. 

Deserved for some, but not for all.


We also have another group of employees that are making a huge impact in our hiring, leadership development, and retention activities.



There are a heck of a lot of them turning twenty-something every day. We not-so-affectionately call these folks millennials.

This negative stereotype speaks volumes about the insecurities of the leaders uttering them.

The Research
Glassdoor has published an interesting report on recruiting and retention statistics for 2017 that is loaded with neat little facts, 

What I found most impactful includes:

- we need to respect our employees
- we need to focus on creating an amazing place to work to retain our employees
- we need to be progressive, competitive, and thoughtful on pay, benefits and culture

Do Your Job
So, what does all of this *new* insight tell us? It's quite simple actually.

1. Leaders are focused far too much on themselves.
2. Leaders spend too much time labeling others.
3. Leaders are threatened about their positions so anything new or different is bad.
4. Leaders lose good people because they don't practice the values that they preach.

You aren't that special..but your team members are. Stop talking, start showing them how much they matter to your company.

How About You
I know every leader isn't stumbling around like a management dinosaur. But if the Glassdoor report tells us anything, it's that there plenty of those dinosaurs left alive who are still tearing down their organizations from the inside out.

Don't be a dinosaur.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Give Me Your Soul

Loyal - "unswerving in allegiance"

Then
There was a time when employees were thankful to have a good job, working for a good company, one that would 'take care' of them for the duration of their career. It seems to me however, there was an imbalance between the organization and the employees who worked hard for those companies to grow and prosper.

It's as if the popular mindset of employers as all-powerful beings that controlled one's entire future was real. Did those loyal employees actually feel that way; or, was it some sort of cultural power play that tricked employees into believing they had to feel loyal or some grave outcome would surely befall them?

While I have tremendous respect for those individuals who feel so deeply connected to the mission of their organizations that they couldn't imagine leaving, that is not what I see playing out in the contemporary world of work.

Now
I think we've had our view of the employer / employee relationship completely backwards for years. 

Yes, bold leadership is absolutely essential if an organization is going to be successful. 

However, the burden on leadership is not only to be provide effective decision-making, but also to be equally as focused on their relationship with the people on the team.

When leadership believes they are always the smartest people in the room, that organization has begun a death spiral. 

Arrogance never plays well.

Never.
Ever.
Ever.

How About You
When we ask our employees to give us their souls, we sure as hell better be prepared to give them everything we have in return. That does not mean imparting our wisdom as if it is some sort of divine message.

Rather, it is a mandate that we stay connected, listen, respect, support and by all means ensure that our team feels valued. Absent that, we will be just another organization that had great potential, but the leadership team screwed it up.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"Who" Is Your Recruitment Strategy

I hear lots of discussions that go something like this...

P1  "So, what is your recruitment strategy?"

P2  "What do you mean?"

P1  "You know, are you using LinkedIn more, or spending money on Indeed?"

P2  "Oh, yea, we're looking into that, and definitely use LinkedIn. Yes, we're obviously doing that. So, what are you doing?"

Me  Take me now, Lord.

What
All too often talent acquisition leaders get caught in the trap of narrowly defining their strategies as a series of "whats." Sure, we need a well thought out plan, but what is missed repeatedly is that the organization's employees are the heart of any contemporary approach.

What recruitment video is on our website? (as in only one...fail!)

What digital application process will we use? (and how can we force it to mirror our broken manual process...fail again!)

What steps can we take to get the Marketing Department to pay attention to us? (even though Marketing Departments do not understand employer brand...a fail hat trick!)

Who
TA leaders have a unique opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competition if they use a "who" vs "what" filter as they develop their recruitment strategies. Consider for a moment the pride that you feel in your team, your company, and the difference you make. You have stories to tell! 

Stories are not "what" things...stories are based on people, the "who" making the magic happen each day.

When leaders focus on profiling their employees on videos and blogs, and distributing those stories across a variety of social channels guess what happens?

The competition has a heart attack, and you get the candidates you need!


Simple.
Effective.

...and only requires one thing...

Courage.



How About You
Is it time to have a very different conversation about your strategic plan? I'd love to help. Oh, and don't worry, I have enough courage for the both of us.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Corporate World's Hot Mess

I'm not one of the young guns anymore. I'm not that 'rising star' (in my mind) that takes bold action, launches new strategies, or sets the world on fire. Wait a second, who am I kidding, of course I still do all of those things! 

However, I view the responsibilities of executives differently now.

Pushing the envelope will always be how I roll...but being so caught up in covering my ass, or feeding my fragile ego at the expense of the amazing people around me, is just about the biggest sin in the executive bible that I can think of. Yet I've seen it happen all too often.

I Wish I Had One of "Those Jobs"
It's actually pretty easy to be an executive...under one basic premise:


Every single thing,
about every part of the entire organization, 
in every circumstance, is perfect in every way, 
at every moment.

The rest of the time, it's hard as hell.

Do Your Job
When you consider the "priorities" that many executives focus on, they are often quite far from the reality of successfully operating their companies. Political infighting, building alliances, scolding direct reports for issues that have no real impact on the business but do impact the warped view the executive's have of leadership, all add up to failure. 

These massive insecurities result in catastrophic damage:
- loss of credibility for the executive 
- loss of focus on the drivers of success (or failure) for the organization
- hours of wasted time addressing the behaviors of executives who have potential, but move down a path that is counterproductive

Is all of this harsh and offensive? Out of touch with reality? Um, no it's not. If I were to spend a few minutes with the leaders who report directly to executives, I would have more than enough "proof."

I've also been hearing it from these same folks (as well as other frustrated executives around them) for years and years...


Solutions
Oh, where to begin! While it is easy to blame our colleagues across the many organizations we encounter in our careers, that doesn't actually help. 

The real opportunity here is for HR to play a far more bold and active role in the operational life of the company.

Some questions to consider as you step up your game:

- When executives get caught up in protecting their position and power instead of focusing on the most important challenges ahead, do you speak up or remain silent?

- When you see high potential leaders being promoted too rapidly, do you speak up or allow it to happen?

- When political agendas start to impact organizational decision making, do you expose it or try to join the club?

How About You
We must be proactive.

We must be internal executive coaches.

We must take control of dysfunctional situations, not just slide into secondary roles.

We must be the executive role models for our junior executive colleagues (regardless of their 'senior' titles) to help them develop into truly effective leaders.

...and we must start today.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Remember Why You Started

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."
Albert Einstein

Grey, not Black and White
Think back to when you finally broke through and landed that first big job. Whether it was in leadership or not, you soon realized two important things:
- the greater the responsibility you have, the greater the impact you can make
- the greater the responsibility you have, the greater the pressure coming at you from all directions

Finding the balance between the these two things, and not losing your energy and enthusiasm can be a challenge!

The pressure, unclear road ahead, changing dynamics in the workplace, and self-talk inspired depression can often get in the way of why you started down this path in the first place.

Acceptance and Action
There is a fairly straightforward way to deal with these pressures however; one that is often overlooked.

Accept them.

Whether or not something "should be this way" or "should be that way" we must accept the reality that the world is not going to operate exactly the way we think it should.

Accept them.

Feeling frustrated with our colleagues once in a while, wishing we could have avoided a communication failure, or believing we should have removed a poor performer sooner are all normal. Getting ourselves all worked up however, or worse, spending extra time lamenting it all is incredibly counterproductive.

"When we accept the fact that the world of work is never going to be perfect, we free ourselves to remember why we were so excited about work in the first place." 

There are still many opportunities to make a difference. 
There are endless chances to impact another person's life. 
There are no limits to what we can do.

How About You
What is getting in your way as you think about work? Have you allowed yourself to become so frustrated that you spend your days feeling down and depressed? Or, will you decide to accept that we all have our failings, but they should never stand in the way of why we love what we do?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

I've Arrived!

The desire to 'play' at the highest level is a powerful aphrodisiac. Whether in sports, academia, research, entertainment, or climbing the corporate ladder, the laser focus to get to the top is sometimes a hindrance to our success.

Chasing Glory
For many professionals, that first taste of a high level role feels like winning a career championship game. The new found power can often be confused with having "arrived." 

Is that big promotion an end point to a long quest? 

Is that breakthrough job offer an affirmation of what you've always believed you could be?

If the answer was yes, the risks to future success just became exponentially more complicated. You see, chasing the glory of career success is actually a never ending series of milestones and new beginnings.

Years of hard work and professionalism can lead to exciting opportunities. Those opportunities, in effect, are a reset of everything you once knew. The previous behavior, routine, and internal peer network all change. 

You have to be open to change too.

Learning the Role, Not the Tasks
The most important step many successful new leaders miss is the ramp up phase into learning "how" to do their new job. Not focusing exclusively on the tasks listed on their new job description.

Think about that for a second...learning the role, not the work.

How does a junior executive behave? What interpersonal skills are now mandatory, regardless of what feels comfortable? 

Is a fragile ego going to be put to the side in order to do the work, make decisions, and earn respect? 

Or...will the previous goal of "most popular rising leader" be the label that supersedes all else?

How About You
Who do you know that is very talented, yet has not invested the time to learn their role? How are they doing? Could they use your trusted consultative support?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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